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Canada, 1994 (MIFF 1995)

Director: Mike Hoolboom

In the near future, Canada is at war with Quebec, battles are determined by TV ratings, and weapons are sponsored by McDonalds and IBM, A skull-masked newscaster reports on the antics of Prime Minister Wayne Gretzky who entertains parliament with animal impressions. Berlin has just finished reconstructing the wail, and Tokyo has purchased New York. Outside, the air is toxic and the streets are congested with mutilat­ed ex-prisoners.

It's enough to suggest a high budget dystopia orchestrated with Lucas Arts holographies, but the result is more intensely mundane, like Atom Egoyan reading Beckett on a rainy afternoon. Mike Hooibooms experimental film focuses on the daily life of a lesbian couple moving through time with reminiscence, tenderness, fear and a stiff shot of Canadian black humour. In the midst of social chaos, Barb (Babz Chuia) and Alex (Gabrielle Rose) dress themselves in protective masks, gowns and rubber boots to spend a quiet afternoon at the zoo. It's a temporary escape. Barb is gang-raped by soldiers while taking a short cut through a restrictive zone. Fearful of infection, Alex begs her to take an AIDS test. With a world imploding around them. Barb decides to announce her result as part of a comic routine. At first, Alex cant see the joke , but she eventually joins in and engineers a attempt t o make love without touching. Their dialogue just manages to find the with a solicitude necessary to protect their intimacy from violence knocking at the door. Valentines Day is like a homemade handmaid's tale, where the future reveals the sins of the pre-sent- no wizardry, just a camera with tender conscience.

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